tv Ambassadors Discuss Hurricane Irma Response in Caribbean and Florida CSPAN September 16, 2017 10:02am-11:36am EDT
people who run the school can make the decisions and create a school model that will work for the kids they have to cheat. -- they have to teach. let's hold them accountable for their performance. if they do a good job, let them open another school. c-span2's book tv. sundays at 7:00 p.m. eastern on oral histories, a series of six interviews with prominent photojournalists. a conversation with frank johnston about his photos and career. out, hei brought oswald was within three feet of me when went-- when jack ruby between bob jackson and i fired to gun, we were all thrown
the floor because there must've been hundreds of police in that basement that sunday morning. >> watch our interviews on oral histories, sundays at 7:00 p.m. on american history tv on c-span3. right now, residents in the u.s. and caribbean are recovering from the effects of hurricane irma. the centerweek, for strategic and international withes held a discussion foreign diplomats and u.s. officials on recovery efforts. this is about an hour and a half. >> great. welcome, everyone. i'm the director here at the center for strategic and international studies for the americas program. it's great to have you all here today. we need to make the requirement
emergency announcement. this is a special program on hurricane irma and jose and the massive response that is already underway. we've seen the pictures of the tremendous damage that has been done on barbuda and st. maarten and the british virgin islands and u.s. virgin islands, cuba, florida and elsewhere. disasters like these hurricanes always present an opportunity to refocus our efforts to see what we are doing well in whatever it's need to be improved. emergency response systems have been tested like never before in the u.s. and countries in the caribbean. we've organized the program today to bring greater attention to both the impact of the hurricanes and to the critical local and international response. this is the latest in a series
of panels, presentations and publications we've been doing on the caribbean. two months ago, we published a report discussing the most important aspects of u.s. relations with the caribbean. with mexico and canada, the caribbean represents our third border . our caribbean effort has been led from the beginning by dr. george fario. he's been assisted by a great group of other senior advisors and associates, some of whom you will see today. without further ado, i would like to turn the floor over to .ally, a friend of csis thank you very much. >> i want to thank everyone who came here today and it one who is watching online. this is an important discussion. we are a nonprofit, we are happy to work with csis on anything
involving our region. when something like irma happens, all of us who have an interest in the region, all of us who care about what's going on there, it's important to get together to talk about the solutions and what's happening. forn, i want to thank csis making this forum possible. my job will be introducing our two speakers. i did want to make one comment. before i do that, i think the testament to hurricane irma, describing it as the united we haveof hurricanes, dutch, french, spanish, u.s. and independent states who've been hit by this, which brings particular focus on international coordination and on local coordination in terms of getting supplies and trying
to figure out how to make it all work smoothly. i would alsoid, like to recognize the testament to the international nature, the first counsel for the embassy of , the first secretary at the embassy of cuba, both countries are impacted by the disaster. my two fellow panelists today, on your right, the ambassador from barbuda to the united states. -- before taking up this appointment, he was the senior research fellow at the institute of commonwealth atdies and a senior fellow massey college in toronto.
he's been in the diplomatic , wto andn england countless other roles representing his country. before we go on, i will do a quick introduction. kingthe ambassador of the of the netherlands to the united states. focusing his work on european union and transatlantic relations cou. that is the brief introduction of my fellow panelists. now, i would like to turn to ambassador sanders, the ambassador for antigua and
barbuda. barbuda was the most impacted nation by hurricane irma. we want to hear as much as possible from the ambassador. >> thank you. mind, i will stand here because it gives me a place to put these pieces of paper on the. -- to put these pieces of paper on. i'm impressed by that performance. [laughter] i want to start this presentation as i've done with almost every one of the presentations i've made on this matter over the last week. that is by first expressing sorrow to the people and government of united states of america.
lost asives that were hurricane irma stormed through the state of florida, georgia and the carolinas, coming on the heels of hurricane harvey, which had taken upwards of 70 lives in texas just a week before. lives of people, your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, would happen a matter of personal grief to you. that's the thing about hurricanes and natural disasters be we can watch them on television with a certain sense of withdrawal. it's almost like a movie. when it affects yourself is when you understand how hurtful it so, i sympathize
with the families of those people who were the unfortunate victims of the two mighty category 4 hurricanes that came onto the shores of this country. i also want to say to this particular group that the brutal, ferocious and merciless storms that the world is now witnessing has led my country to believe that climate change is a reality and it is here to stay, despite all those who may say it is a fantasy of the chinese or whatever other reason people say it doesn't exist. no borders. know they crossed them at will and they have no fear of being
turned away. there's no immigration office for this. should they decide to come in this direction. they know no ideologies or embargoes. cubawill storm through before moving onto parts of the united states. they didn't know there was an embargo. they make no dissemination between small or large or rich or poor. they see no white people or black people or any persons of any color. the destruction is ruthless and penniless. -- pitiless. year after year, we are confronted with a trail of death and destruction that is the aftershock of these storms. all our countries should resolve to put climate change high on
our agenda and work toward mitigation against it. now, i would like to talk to you specifically about antigua and barbuda. antigua and barbuda are separated by 28 miles. that 28 miles was significantly important to antigua on this occasion. while the eye of the hurricane outerver barbuda and the edges of it went over antigua, antigua did not receive the kind of damage that barbuda did. not only was it the fact that it did not get the full effect of the hurricane, it was also preparation. it is a kind of enforced preparation because we've been suffering these hurricanes now since bad ones since 1995.
luis, a hurricane category five hurricane reduced antigua to a snowless winter scene. if you can imagine a country in the tropics that just went --ough the most cruel winter no branches on the trees and no leaves on the nonexistent branches. that is what antigua was like in 1995. a mix of rubble from the houses, including my own, which was tossed into the sea within a matter of minutes. we rebuilt from all of that. every time we rebuilt come a we rebuilt to higher standards and higher regulations. .
we would not have been able to cope with the problem we have with barbuda. to turn to barbuda, for the years,ime in over 300 there is today not a living soul on barbuda. a society of people who lived for generations on that island had to be plucked away from all that they own, all that they know and all that defined them as a people. my government was compelled to evacuate all the 1700 inhabitants of barbuda and move them to antigua. we had cared for that possibility before the sirkin came along. -- this hurricane came along. we had ordered all the building allrial, all the dry foods,
the medicines we thought we would need in an emergency, and we warehoused them in miami, waiting to fly them into antigua , which we were able to do disco days after the hurricane passed so that when we evacuated the people from barbuda, we were able to address their immediate needs. we did not have to wait for other countries and other agencies to help. hit arericane irma has viewed in a way that none of us could've imagined. there's no portable water, no electricity, and such buildings that are left are pitiful wr ecks incapable of providing shelter and dangerous to enter. barbuda is 62 square miles. live is 68n which we square miles.
was 364 miles wide when it spread itself across the island. overwhelming it in size, strength and ferocity. it's force was category 5 plus. strong as turkey and we have ever seen in our region with winds gusting 220 miles per hour. -- the strongest hurricane we have ever seen in our region with winds gusting 220 miles per hour. an all-encompassing, monstrous power. hadite all that, barbuda one fatality. the government had built a shelter, concrete roof and everything, and most of the to -- it isitent
always difficult to get people to leave their homes. one woman with a little child refused to leave her home until it was far too late, when her home began to crumble around her. she then decided to rush for the shelter. by then, the winds were strong enough, it plucked that child .rom her hands she did not see him again until the next day. he was dead. we will mourn that child for a .ong time however, we have to be thankful that the rest of the people survived. we could not leave people on barbuda in those conditions. even though the barbudans themselves amidst all that are hesitantreck
to leave their homeland -- not only the existing conditions of barbuda, which could not sustain jose will hite two days after it had already reduced it to rubble. that is what compelled us to bring them. this story is better seen. therefore, we have a little video. then i will wrap up this presentation with the current conditions of the island. ♪ ♪ ♪
the worstsurvived storm in living memory and knowing another is on the way, people are exhausted and desperate to leave. >> i'm just waiting to get evacuated from here and then i'm going to come back and try to salvage something. my whole life is here. >> we are not coping. we are definitely not coping. everyone will tell you the same, they are not coping.
everyone is in the same situation. no one can help one another. >> for her can carve a cruel and deadly path of these streets -- the storm carved a cruel and deadly path through the streets. the prime minister travel to antigua to provide some reassurance. he knows this is a race against time before hurricane jose arrives in just a few hours. fear starts to spread that not everyone will get out in time. there is no place on the next boat. isely a building salvageable.
the whole island has to be rebuilt. the government has admitted it simply doesn't have the money. the hope is the funds will come from somewhere. that's hopingat that friendly governments will step up to the plate. they should not see this as a -- this is a disaster, a national disaster. >> the fragments of people's lives lie in ruins. for now, they must leave by any means possible, including this barge. they don't know when they will return. >> the night was restless. you couldn't get to sleep. you were up all night trying to organize and keep things together. all of a sudden, the big crush came.
it just a bit bringing down .verything everything started to decay and crumble. >> what is your house like? >> the roof is often everything inside is destroyed. >> what have you eaten? >> hardly anything could there's nothing to eat. you can't cook or anything. there's no water. >> what do you do now? >> i have no idea. everyone now is homeless. we have nowhere to go. >> are you going to rebuild? >> i don't know. i don't know if that is a possibility. it won't be for a very long time. >> how are you coping? >> we are not coping. we definitely are not coping. everyone says the same thing. everyone is in the same situation.
of --t was the x this that was the exodus of barbudans to antigua. the people who came onto antigua represent an increase overnight. without warning and no preparation, 3% of our population. it must be difficult for any country to suddenly have to cope overnight with an increase of their population of 3%. think of the medical services, children, places, 500
we have to find school places for them in antigua in an already overtaxed educational system. we've had to find food and water, a modicum of decent living, but basically that is all it is. antiguans have been very generous and have opened their homes and have taken many people and young children. livingk of them are now in government buildings in makeshift areas. they are very anxious to return to barbuda. that is their home. parents and their ancestors were buried. that's where they got married,
had birthday parties. but it is impossible to do so now. how long this will be like this i have no idea. is going toarbuda of $250in excess million. and we simply don't have that kind of money. the reason why it is going to cost that is because we just andt cope -- go to barbuda rebuild buildings. this hurricane season is not yet over. it will go on until the middle of november and then and will recur again next year and the rafter that and the year after that. another hurricane comes along and knocks the whole thing down and we start all over. and then come to the international community and ask for help.
i'm not even sure that as i speak to you now this tragedy from which everyone feels very emotional will be a story any longer. media will have moved on to something else, some tweaks or something that attracts of their attention. and this will be forgotten. it will not be forgotten for us because we have to look after all of the people. video, people are asking , we are askingnt for it because we need. this is not just a disaster. it is a humanitarian crisis and our hope is that the international community will be responsive in helping us to barbudabarbie at a -- that will resist these
hurricanes which are clearly caused by climate change and global warming which is not only here to stay but i suspect will get worse. thank you all very much. >> thank you, ambassador. to -- somewill turn remarks like to open the floor for questions. , thank you for putting the let turn back. up, i will make the use of it. i am in a way a different kind of animal. anti-gunferent from debt antigua -- antigua and barbuda.
the disaster, the bottom line of all of this is i would like to start off with saying the same as you and this country has suffered the same fate, harvey goes have and our heart out to you like we know your heart goes out to us in the caribbean. i say us because the kingdom of the netherlands is a kingdom of four parts. there are four independent parts and one of the north is st. maarten, an island we share, half, 40% is dutch and roughly 40 million people are living there and the other part is french. if i say that i am a different
animal and little bit, i was not born officially in a st. maarten but the netherlands. am aware ofean part disasters but a different share. we havee european part, had our share of disasters but a different and share. it was something totally new to us and at the netherlands and not nothing new to our friends in the caribbean, actually, it a and st.rare in arub maarten. if i tell you a little bit of what happened in st. maarten, yes,, we have had the wrath of the hurricane. from official figures, 4 people
died, one of them of natural causes and three directly related to the hurricane. by the way, i will speak on the andh part of st. maarten the french part, the 40,000 people. more than 40 people injured of which 11 seriously injured. i think of all the destruction, 90% -- structures, 90% is damaged and 30% beyond repair. severe and we are in a different situation because st. maarten being part of a wider kingdom, the other three parts of the kingdom were not touched. i think what you can see is the other part of the kingdom included the part in your -- in , we will not abandon you.
we are part of one kingdom. we are there with you also in this moment of need. out last sunday to visit people who had been evacuated from the island. he visited saint martin monday -- st. maarten monday and stayed overnight and went on tuesday, yesterday, to the other islands islands withll 1200, 1300 people. it was a sign of solidarity and he reiterated we are with you and your moment of need. another country that was with us and our need -- in our need was the united states. we do not want to talk about
what you do in the aftermath of something like that. we have been held to grilli and are still being held by the united states will has a regular -- [indiscernible] what we could do together for the island. after the storm had passed and the mass evacuations and the evacuations of everybody in a medical need. and the problem we have found out with evacuation is that you have to be strict and you have to make a list and make the list public and prioritize. the first were the people in medical need. --evacuated and the networks in the netherlands
[indiscernible] a big problem with evacuation was the airport of st. maarten is on the dutch part of the island and it was severely damaged. the runway had to be cleared. and there was no control tower anymore. there were no lights anymore. after the run will was clear, it was cleared that we can only fly during the day. it was an absence of light and no control tower. and there were only military plane that were going to fly because it was too dangerous for commercial flights and we had to have very strict orders of how we would evacuate. if there are lessons to be learned, that is one, you have to be strict in your evacuation. may be one lesson early, pre-positioning of assets.
we had pre-positioned some alsos of materials, but 100 person military on the island. i do not know anybody really realized how irma would be. we have scaled up our military and we will be0 at 700 by tomorrow or the day after tomorrow and that's probably is the amount of people you need. nobody knew, this was the first time. say, i willmust mention this quickly, we have been greatly helped by the international -- operations. we are in this together with the french government. we immediately established contact and we are with the crisis team and they are in our
crisis team, and the americas are in our crisis team. and i think they will be there and the french crisis team but i cannot speak for them. close ties with the brits on the islands. we have tried to coordinate as much as possible, and we have coordinated evacuations. we have coordinated with the french -- [indiscernible] we coordinated evacuation plans with flight control in and out and we have the only port. i am happy to say the port of st. maarten is reestablished and with had our first cruise ship comment in -- coming in, not for
cruise but helping people. and if necessary, will get our second cruise ship in tomorrow. [indiscernible] emergencies are out, all of the families of the emergency responders are out. they were a priority category for us. i think for all the tourists that were there which was our third priority, probably 800 are left. we have gotten them out by now, more than three -- 3500 on flights and more than 500 by boat. there are 800 left and then you come to the people or permanent residents on the island.
some people wanted to leave and some people want to stay. we would love for them to stay because they have to rebuild the island. it will force them to stay. we are talking with them now. a number of students have a medical college on the island, these people want to go out and flights.f the american that is as far as evacuations are concerned and i think the evacuation, emergency part will be done by tomorrow. let us be honest, five or six days before you have everybody out. it is an island. supply has been restored. people are drinking water from bottles. we have a decently and nation --
desalineation plan. the food has been there. in one or two weeks, you will get a problem with food. though food supply, all the food packages will run out and then you will say you go back to the normal food supply and that will be a problem, but with time to a dress it. -- address it because the port is open, you like time to address it. communication is a hard problem. a florida, seeing your photos or do not work and the internet connection is not there. system, the telephone the portable telephone system will be restored and will make life for a lot of people a lot easier. and it will make for all those
people who are missing that their loved ones, they can now reestablish contact and we find that very important that the content is there to say, hey, i am ok. that is the most important, your loved ones are safe. there is ager-term, huge rebuilding operation ah ead. we realize that and we have an us vestment team, and american assessment team -- we have an assessment team, and american assessment team, on the ground between one point $1 billion and one point $5 billion is in the initial assessment we have heard. .1 billion and $1.5 billion
is the initial assessment we have heard. [indiscernible] theyve to make sure that can survive, they have to have a source of income. rebuildmore reason to the island as quickly as possible because not only build the issue, we built the source of income. notre happy to say that only is there an outpouring from unds comingands of f out from the people, donations from the international red cross of 3 million euros will have a -- all the national television stations and radio stations will band together for a big program
where people can phone in for the contributions. the government will make an assessment of what the damage is and make the contribution. we have seen already the european union, we are part of the european union, test status of the french part is different from us, but still, it is clear that european union will step in to an amount we do not know yet. we will get international solidarity there will not only from the p o -- not only from the people from the region but from europe where there is a strong bond. relate, iwant to heard a very nice interview this morning i'm a woman from st. maarten -- this morning, a woman from st. maarten whose house was still standing and heavily damaged.
they said what are you going to do now and basically her answer was i never liked a roof, this is a possibility to rebuild my house to my own design. this is an absolute disaster and an opportunity. in st. maarten have experienced at that and we will pick up our shovels and brushes and we will rebuild and we will be better and more beautiful than we were before irma. thank you very much. [applause] >> we are going to have to turn over to the next panel but i do not want to not get the opportunity for a couple of questions to be asked from the audience. i have a couple myself area for the sake of time, if i could invite --
sharp was is charles so black emergency managers association international. >> i heard you better without the microphone. the black emergency managers association and washington, d.c. and my heart goes out to the people. >> i do not understand a word you are saying. they can hear you. -- igionally, how involved really wanted to meet you at the upcoming conference and not in a situation like this. are they highly involved? touchuch with -- i am in with ron johnson. how are they assisting the you? i know there's a deployment plan for the -- for them to return.
are you looking for them to return back to help rebuild any devil by step approach? -- revealed in a step-by-step approach? >> the answer is the use our early days. this occurred on the sixth of september. we are a week away from it now. but, we have been preoccupied as you can understand with coping with 1700 people and 3% increase in our population. has to beat barbuda rebuilt but how to rebuild it and in which way, the only way if its definite about it cannot be rebuilt in the way that it was. it has to be built to withstand the storms which are clearly now here to stay. how we will plan that, how we will mobilize it is something that people are discussing, but
not in any definitive way. we will have to first send and teams of people to study it and we will need expert help with it as well. our prime minister is thinking about converting into completely green technology to the away from fossil fuels and we no longer have telephone poles and electricity poles and the air which is acceptable to destruction -- susceptible to destruction by these hurricanes. these are the kind of vague things around. but barbuda could be a major tourist destination in the caribbean. the mostes are among beautiful and may be superior to yours. we have beaches they you can stand in the water to your neck and see your toes.
it was the preferred place of holiday for princes diana. and at the two boys, the oldest in line for the throne. it has a gap attention. -- it has that potential. but in the future, we have got the hotels are one thing and how people live, the standard of their buildings, the quality of them is going to be very important and so will the utilities. that is up the road. we have an immediate problem. we know we have to do it. but, you are right, as we do it, it will have to be re-phased. we cannot send everybody back at the same time. homesmes gets built -- get built, there will be
unprecedented violence of the weekend and the importance [indiscernible] it has been evaluated more than 2 trillion euros. -- 2 billion euros. [indiscernible] state has been deployed a wide range of means to assist the population in distress. do not want to make that speech. as you said, mr. bessemer, week -- ambassador, we cannot have this every year. we cannot continue to have this meeting every year.
we came to extend a lot of means and billions of dollars and the victims are always in the same -- the population. we have to think about what we anddo to fix the situation i think the first we can do is to continue to work for cash against, sorry, -- work for, against, sorry, climate change. it has been stronger because the is so warm. you can see it everywhere in the world. have all said the sea has never been warm like today. first, we have to do that.
second, i think we have to look altogether. with architects and other scientists for houses and infrastructure that can withstand for the next hurricane. this has cost a lot of money. we have to work altogether very -- for the population. i do not want to make this speech but i want to say with my heart. and i would like to be with you for the future. thank you. sally: thank you. so, if, one more maybe. if there's one more question, we will take it on if not, we will
close out the panel. so, i would like to thank the 2 ambassadors. there are a lot of lessons to be learned by what happened as a result of irma. everybody, whether in u.s., kingdom of nederland, friends, -- france, britain and the independent territories in the caribbean world affected, there's a lesson about resilience to be learned about how can we make the islands more resilient. how can we build better to the , power linespoint underground, phone lines underground, everything that can be done to make the country's more resilient. change, as the waters continue to rise, you cannot be resilient against a 50 foot ocean swell.
there are a lot of considerations out there about how we build better. but, i think i would like to close on a that note so we can turn over to the next panel. i would ask all of you in the itm who are here or watch online, if there is anything you can do to contribute to the recovery of our countries in the region, that will all be appreciated and we look forward as we willwith you not forget about this two weeks from now or a year from now. this will be a long-term process. we look forward to hearing from you and working with you. [applause]
>> thank you very much preamp i am mark schneider. -- very much. -- i am mark schneider. welcome the to second panel. we heard from the distinguished ambassadors. a very depressing report on the magnitude of hurricane irma. -- hurricane irma on their ,slands and others as well cuba, the british virgin islands and the u.s. virgin islands. it is clear the vulnerability of both countries being an small the -- being and small the power of nature -- big and small the
power of nature. we have individuals who can speak to the response, the u.s. response, immediate relief and hopefully looking down the road as we just heard, there will be an incredible need for coordinated support and cooperation over reconstruction for the rebuilding a way that takes into account the threats and dangers of climate change in the region. and for that, we have the deputy director of the office of caribbean affairs at the state department james fleming whose first response director of the office of disasters at usaid. he had a distinguished career in the state including the previous assignment as the deputy local councils in kabul and before
that the state department international organization bureau. a harvard graduate masters georgetown school of service and one of the most impressive things in her career was the work of the peace corps volunteer and democratic congo. james fleming also began his career at the right-of-way as a peace corps volunteer in cameroon and after graduate college with physics he joined a 99 and works of the operations division and became responsible for the disaster assistance response team's. i've worked closely with them in haiti and after i value greatly their work. james now is that the division chief for disaster response in asia, latin america, europe, central asia.
>> good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to represent the state department here on the panel discussion today. first of all, on behalf of the state department, i want to extend our deepest sympathy to all those who suffered because of hurricane irma. we are living this disaster with you ourselves. also, i think this roundtable today is an important opportunity to reaffirm our stance with the caribbean and those affected by the hurricane. to the heartbreakinthe heartbret caused in the british virgin islands and throughout saint barth and the department of state has worked in lockstep with other u.s. government agencies in particular the department of defense and usaid as well as the caribbean governments and international
partners to evacuate citizens in the united states and provide humanitarian support. hurricane irma underscored our interconnectedness as sally mentioned the un of disasters and underscores the need for close cooperation in the region. by working together we can move the events of the past few weeks and recover and rebuild. the humanitarian support the u.s. government is delivering and will continue to deliver in the coming days, weeks and months will address the most pressing needs of the caribbean people. but even as we respond to the immediate humanitarian needs of the crisis, we already are looking ahea ahead at how aboute address the lessons learned as the ambassador mentioned as the ambassador to the netherlands mentioned. we need to look at how we work going forward and mend the wounds beyond just the cleanup. as you know, or many of you may know, in june of this year, we
completed a comprehensive strategy to increase our engagement with the caribbean's. in the strategy we also pledged to work with the countr countrig forward to address issues of the resilience of emergency response capacities and infrastructure so that we can respond better for the natural disasters like hurricane irma. we understand there's a lot less to be done to determine the extent of the damage as others have mentioned, we are still on the assessment phase. we need to continue to support those seeking shelter and we need to continue to supply. but our focus needs to shift from rescue to recovery including humanitarian support, and i know these are issues that will be discussed by james after me but before i turn over i do
want to take a moment to discuss a little bit about the u.s. government response efforts and the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. before the storm hit, the department had been monitoring as it formed off the coast of africa in late august and we issued travel warnings to citizens in the path of the hurricane and we authorized departure for the personnel in haiti, cuba, the bahamas and the dominican republic and we are very grateful to those in the region's tourism industry and others that helped pass this urgent message to alert many to prepare and others to delay or detained travel plans. we then set up a 24 hour task force to precipitate the evacuation to provide support missions overseas and to coordinate, and this is one of the most important part is to coordinate u.s. government assistance with our inner agency colleagues and international
partners. i personally served on the task force on several after it had become a 24 hour task force i can tell you that at every level the state department commitment has been there and everybody has been standing up to just provide support for this relief effort. the last update that i received indicates that the efforts so far have led to the evacuation of more than 2400 people including more than those with royal caribbean and 2,000 by the air military support and other support. to further support san juan and st. martin, we positioned a member of our consular officers both from the u.s. and some of the missions in the region to puerto rico and others parts in the caribbean. we are extremely grateful during this whole event and the aftermath to the colleagues in the department of defense as well as dutch, french and
british authorities that have cooperation. for more specific information about travel and shelter and service, people viewing and the people that have questions about the countries look at travel dot state .gov on the website of the state department website and finally in conclusion, i want to thank you for your continued support particularly see sis, the caribbean ambassador, sally for her endless efforts as well and many others that have shaped the strategy that we are now beginning to implement and as we move forward in our efforts we will continue to rely on you as our partner to build on the strategy to try to pass a more robust relationship. so thank you for organizing this
event and again, our hearts go out to our friends and family who are going through this devastating disaster. thank you. [applause] first, thanks to see sis for the invitation to come and talk with you today and have a discussion. the office of foreign disaster assistance our responsibility is to lead the u.s. government disaster response for the people affected around the world by disasters and this is a disaster wthedisaster we could see comins was mentioned at least a week ahead of time. one of the things we did even before the disaster is prepare as much as we could in advance so what that meant for us is we
pre- deployed our disaster professionals across the caribbean to the best guess of where the storm would have the greatest impact, so we placed people in the dominican republic and barbados where we could get to the other islands that were affected. one of the other things that we did is we had local consultants in almost every country in the caribbean and w we activated all of those local consultants and they are our eyes and ears and coordinate very closely with the government emergency management agencies throughout the region. also, what we did is we prepared airlifts and commodities to be able to respond very quickly to wherever the storm impacted. as these hurricanes go they never follow the exact track that you expect, so our staff
after seeing where the storm was going, we shifted our staff away into the dominica dominican repc towards the bahamas and then st. martin as well. so at the moment, we have disaster assistance response team members as well as at st. martin's. the way the united states assistance is triggered is by a request from the affected country so we have received to date for disaster declarations, which are issued that we receive disaster declarations from the bahamas, from antigua and holland and france.
i worked at usaid for 19 years and i think this is the first time that i recall seeing disaster declarations from the netherlands and from france. but whenever we receive a disaster declaration, i feel personally that it's actually an honor to receive a request for help and for our teams to go there that is what we are trained to do and we enjoy doing that, so this is what we do. when we go into a country, we recognize that the need for the disaster response is the local government and so our job is not to takeover bid is to support thathe local government. so, when our disaster assistance response team's arrive in the bahamas, we are coordinating with the bahamas government
first and foremost. we also coordinate with regional entities. there was a question earlier about the caribbean disaster and we coordinate with them, but we also have a child to coordinate the entire u.s. government response. so, we coordinate with the department of state, department of defense and any other u.s. government agency that has been a role in the disaster response. then we work with un organizations and international ngos, nongovernmental organizations, local nongovernmental organizations to actually start implementing assistance. so far with the united states has done in terms of disaster response, we have released an initial amount of funds to enter the countries from which we have received a disaster declaration
so we provided an initial amount of $100,000 to all four countries and usually that is channeled through the local red cross assistance in that country. what we've also done is we have dispatched to relief flights are arriving tomorrow, one in antigua and one into the bahamas. these are full of whatever that country needs. in this case it includes shelter material, blankets, hygiene kits, household items, water containers and so forth. we also have received a request for water treatment from st. martin, and what we did is worked through the u.s. government for who could provide this. so in this case it was the department of defense that have this equipment, so we asked the
department of defense to provide this equipment. a couple of these purification units are being delivered immediately with more on the way. what we are also doing it his clear that this is in the early stages of the disaster response, so our teams are on the ground conducting assessments and looking for gaps in ways to respond in the future. not only do we do response but you for a number of questions about preparedness. that is an essential part of any disaster response is what you can do ahead of time. and this is a big part of what usaid does is help communities
become more resilient disasters around the world and i have a personal saying that how we honor the people that have been affected by disasters, learning lessons for response and preparedness we can put in place, and again that is how we honor those that have been affected by disasters. .. >> who is coordinating it or is it a freefall?
who is coordinating to make sure it is being spent at the community level? that is the key to rebuilding. >> there are a lot of layers to that question. what i would say first is the responsibility is it that sovereign territory. as it is bahamas, the bahamian government is responsible with all that assistance that comes into the country to coordinate that. is succeeded to capacity. so is this an option. under which assistance is the coreand one of
tenets of humanitarian assistance is you have to involve the people you are helping with the design of the program. be-- any intervention cannot done appropriately unless the people receiving that assistance are part of the process. and any personal who is responding internationally should be operating under those principles and that is the proper way. >> questions? >> thank you. good afternoon. research representing and technology part from the u.s. virgin islands. one of the things about the tech part i represent is it is completely commercially funded a prudent and so the question i have is, as far as -- funded and as far as the question i have
is, is there a role for the private sector? there are technology and with tt organization. and i would be pleased to hear from you. >> this is something that has changed radically and to be involved with disaster response. with the huge influence on the private sector. and then to respond to disasters.
it is absolutely vital. and that has to be tailored. and that is what is needed. said going back to the first question in the first place to look is with that sovereign government. with the national emergency management agency and that is my initial suggestions. >> and coming up with that strategy but what is different to develop hand in
will give you my card at the end of the session. >> so we have additional questions. >> my name is michael of the director and i want to thank everyone who was a part of putting this together. and with that cuban embassy to how of vienna doesn't have accurate reports it covers 90% and is much worse than what many people know. what is usaid into a policy of assistance to cuba? what is the policy of that?
coordination of the command center. so a emergency relief for medical. so i would assume they would be engaged frequently. and with those organizations might not have that. >> david mentioned the trade and with the five decades of experience with the strategy with that indiscriminate movement of national disasters in with that
sovereign nation and. and is host the multinational of the europe in the caribbean with so on and so forth. in with that very clear issue of security and these are multinational issues. and now with a national disaster with their local state them puerto rico and u.s. virgin islands and they are doing work in the region. what can and that show was about what we need to do for
other areas to streamline that much more with major economic political powers of the world? europe and the united states right there with max amount of resources is to shed light to help others. >> end with that coordination that will continue to address san with at that strategy and everything us to be done in partnership. and in partnership with all
so maybe in a concentric circle. but did you see more of these regional around the world in the caribbean with the southeast asia nations this is something usaid so we provide funds to respond regionally so that is important. in then to respond regionally it is important but for those nations to respond over time with the emergency management agency
to build their capacity and he don't need as much international help to see the of success stories around the world. the with capacity building you can stop so getting down to those local municipal municipalities to field those capacities is critical especially for this life-saving idea of. over time across the of world. >> character is a disaster relief commitment to work
hotel tourism association that information is probably the best nearby minute account of hotels reacting and the damage and the work that we do with disaster management with that public sector preparing for a disaster. and i also want 2.0 another private sector entity to be ready to provide assistance with those activities taking
place at the geneva caribbean to provide assistance from one island to the other. taking place and collaboration to make a difference in a lot of the of the work that has been done on the preparation has paid off in spades because at has mitigated lot of the of problems not to underestimate that huge challenge that is ahead is a massive amount of work from the recovery but. >>.
>> since my name was mentioned if you think of lumber you think of lumber nobody mentioned turks and caicos there and have a half-million dollar credit line for whatever they need. we gave a quarter million dollar line to the bahamas government said they would do the same thing. them to open credit lines so that we can help provide them for what they need up front. building and construction will come a year from now. what we knew to do right now is get the supplies that are needed to the country that needs them. we will put boots on the ground in every place to help people evaluate what needs are there.
we did she lay after their great, we did mongolia, we did the caribbean, we are willing to going -- into the banking industry and help to provide loans for people as well. these are a lot of things that the private sector and do with the help of others. when the affected nations were offering our help to go in and work with their banking systems, work with their contractors and governments to come up with a solution as you suggested earlier what to do better for next time. we are not just a lumber company, we help work with people and companies to try to get through the hard times. >> on that positive note we will thank everyone who attended >> >> thank you very much.
meeting with local officials in his district as they helped residents. crewxas, we have a c-span looking at recovery efforts in the aftermath of hurricane harvey. a photo of a relief center in houston. provided video of the storm's impact in other parts of this day. -- the state. look inis a live washington that organizers are calling, the mother of all rallies and rally participants are gathering in some of the president and the country. it should be getting underway shortly and will continue all afternoon. we will try to join the event recently all through the day. >> sunday on book tv, live
coverage of the brooklyn book festival starting at 10 a.m. eastern chris hayes discusses his book, a colony and a nation. author talks about free speech. book o'neill on her weapons of mass destruction. coverage of the book festival on sunday during at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span twos tv. > hearing and efforts to modern a test modernize the country's electric grid. this is about one hour.